THE MACEDONIAN QUESTION
One topic that excites massive controversy in Bulgaria is the 'Macedonian question'. The historical region of
Macedonia covered areas of modern-day northern Greece and southwestern Bulgaria, as well as the Republic of
Macedonia itself. For many Bulgarians there is no question - Macedonians are simply Bulgarians in denial, and
their country really a part of the Bulgarian state, unfairly detached by bad luck and Great Power intrigue.
In 1945 the inhabitants of the Pirin region were named a Macedonian ethnic minority, and there were plans to
merge Bulgaria and Macedonia into one country, though all this came to nothing in the end and by the 1960s the
ethnic minority status was rescinded. The majority of people living in the Pirin region regard themselves first and
foremost as Bulgarian, but movements for regional autonomy still exist. Ultra-nationalist parties such as the In-
ternal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO) maintain that the state of Macedonia is part of Bulgaria.
Despite being the first country to recognise the independent Republic of Macedonia after it peacefully separ-
ated from Yugoslavia in 1991, Bulgaria does not recognise the Macedonian national identity or language.
Religious Life in Bulgaria
Orthodox Christianity has been the official religion since 865, though modern Bulgaria is
a secular state that allows freedom of religion. The vast majority of the population -
around 76% - still professes adherence to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, although only
a fraction of this number regularly attend church services.
In the 2011 census, some 11% declared
themselves atheist, while Protestant and Cath-
olics together formed less than 2% of the Bul-
Roughly 10% of the population is Muslim -
ethnic Turks, Pomaks and many Roma. Over
the centuries the Islam practised in Bulgaria
has incorporated various Bulgarian traditions and Christian beliefs and has become known
as Balkan Islam.
There's also a tiny Jewish population, mainly living in Sofia.
Dunovism, founded in Bulgaria after WWI by Peter
Dunov, is a religion combining Orthodox Christian-
ity with yoga, meditation and belief in reincarna-